John Fish knows all too well the meaning of poverty and pain.
Dealing with an abusive home life and the death of three close family members, he found himself struggling with alcohol addiction and homelessness on the streets of San Diego from 1996 to 1998.
But Fish found hope through the rehabilitation program of a local rescue mission in Oxnard, Calif.
However, it wasn't until he finished attending World Reaching Faith School of Ministry in Ventura, Calif., and became an ordained chaplain that he recognized the need to help others with a similar past.
In May 2008, three years after moving to Denver, Fish, 45, founded Mount Moriah Summit, along with his wife, Suzanne, and a few other Denver residents. Last September the ministry was recognized as an official nonprofit organization.
"It is a charity which gives directly to the community," said Fish.
The Summit also includes Mount Moriah Thrift Store.
Originally founded in a small back room at Crossroads Bible Church in Denver, the store's continued growth led to its first move in February 2009 to a larger site on N.C. 16, and a second move is planned down the same street to a larger site.
The store sells donated items, such as furniture, clothing, appliances and other household necessities.
In the past, Mount Moriah offered services such as rental assistance and bill payment, though such aid is not the norm. The Summit also provides clothing and other necessary items to area nonprofits and local churches.
"This ministry is needed because there are many people that do not fit into the normal category of homelessness," Fish said.
According to Fish, this category not only includes those living well-below the poverty line, but also those residents in the middle income group who are barely making ends meet.
During the last seven years, the Fishes also have helped children in need by serving as foster parents in California and North Carolina.
Unity Presbyterian Church along with players from Verdict Ridge Golf & Country Club in Denver assist the Summit's Backpack Program for hungry children.
According to Fish, the program allows parents to enroll their children to receive food-filled backpacks during holidays and weekends. The program provides for students at St. James Elementary School in Denver and hopes to include additional schools in the future.
In addition to the Backpack Program, Mount Moriah Thrift Store anticipates funding its second program, Rainbows, after opening its newest location in March. Already a worldwide success, Rainbows is a free 12-week program designed to help children cope with the grief associated with death, divorce and the deployment of a family member.
"The true goals of MMS are to have a transitional housing unit, drug and alcohol recovery, job development and assistance, mobile medical care and any other programs the community might need," Fish said.
To that end, Suzanne plans to complete a master's degree in counseling this summer.
During the toughest years in his life, Fish kept his focus ahead and gives himself little credit for the positive change that came his way.
"I just kept walking forward no matter what happened, and God did the rest," he said.
The Summit's main purpose remains simple: "To serve and follow God's love for people."